HAMK has had a great opportunity to bring together the Uruguayan education sector and the Uruguayan forestry sector to strengthen the bridge between education and the labour market, focusing on the future needs of the sector.
In this collaboration, facilitated over a year, mainly online but also through intensive weeks in Montevideo and Hämeenlinna, future foresight methods are being implemented. Alltogether twenty persons, both education professionals from UTU (Universidad del Trabajo de Uruguay) and forestry professionals from the Uruguayan forest production sector were selected for the process, which was funded by the Team Finland Knowledge programme.
What is future foresight methodology?
Future foresight methods do not involve gazing into a crystal ball. The methodology applied involves taking a close look at expected phenomena in the chosen professional sector and finding ways to solve and be prepared for the upcoming changes and challenges. For this purpose, methods such as PESTE analysis (political, economic, sociological, technological and environmental factors influencing in organisations), creating scenarios, planning paths to achieve desired objectives and based on this, creating new competence profiles required in future work (Ojala et al. 2022) are used. The future foresight collaboration process was facilitated by HAMK Global Education team of experts and Turku University of Applied Sciences.
The benefits of collaborative future foresight are clear for both education and industry partners
The education sector representants to this project come from the ”Universidad del Trabajo de Uruguay” (UTU), that has been strongly investing in the improvement of the relevance of tertiary education offer in the recent years. Gabriela López, Coordinator of the Research and Evaluation Unit of the Technical Department of Academic Management of the UTU (and also a participant in the course), points out: ”The ultimate objective of this project is to strengthen the link between education and the world of work, through the perspective of foresight and anticipation of needs. This is particularly necessary for technical fields of education in order to be able to base the educational offer on what will really be needed in the future and to offer graduates a real opportunity to enter the world of work”. The cooperation between UTU and HAMK started earlier, in 2019, with the strengthening of teachers’ competences and, in addition, improving the connection between the education sector and the world of work. The future foresight process further strengthens this link.
The cooperation is also appreciated by the companies. One of the participants in the programme, Eng. Miguel Oñate, Head of Northern harvest at AF, explains: ”By linking an educational institution with the business sector, it is possible to train professionals who are what the labour market really needs in this sector, forestry. This programme teaches us a very new and interesting methodology that allows us to bring academic training and business needs closer. Together they are able to create a curriculum that will allow the graduates to enter the world of work in this sector. Miguel Oñate continues: ”The gap is wide because sometimes basic training is focused on an aspect where the future is not going. Therefore, a long-term vision, developed together with the companies themselves and the education system, can reduce this gap and facilitate the alignment to the companies’ own needs”.
Future foresight methods are tools for future planning
Implementing the future foresight methodology in practice requires time to learn how to use the methods, as well as time to thoroughly explore changes that might happen in the future and how to prepare for change. We can’t predict the future, but we can take a different approach to preparing for the challenges that may lie ahead.
The future foresight methodology is now being used in other national and international projects led by HAMK.
The Association of Forestry producers of Uruguay, SPF (Sociedad de Productores Forestales) has published an article about the project (in Spanish) .
Anne-Maria Korhonen, Principal Research Scientist, HAMK Edu
Nana Niskanen, Project Manager, HAMK Global Education
Ojala, K., Kantola, M., Högblom, E., Frantti A. & Ollila, J. (2022). Ilmiöavaruuksista skenaarioihin – Kuinka alueellisia osaamis- ja koulutustarpeita ennakoidaan verkostoyhteistyönä. Ammattikasvatuksen aikakauskirja 24 (2), 60–70.